Here are the latest updates from our Down on the Farm documentary commission film makers.
With Spring well and truly on its way things are definitely livening up Down on the Farm...
Michael: March was indeed a busy time for the Balsdon Family. The sheep required constant care and every day saw each member undertake the same responsibilities. The sheep needed to be fed, drenched, moved around and the pens needed to be bedded up with fresh straw and eventually the sheep would be moved out of the farm and into the neighbouring fields.
Holly & Jo: On Friday 22nd February Holly and Jo of Black Bark Films and Dee Butterly of the Landworkers’ Alliance travelled down to Down Farm in Winkleigh, North Devon to visit Liv James as part of the Down the Farm Moving Image commission. We took this opportunity to meet Liv and Henry, take a tour of the farm and get to know each other a bit better over soup on a blustery sunny day.
Henry mentioned that growing organic food locally ticks all the boxes when it comes to food politics. It’s tangible, positive and engaging. It’s not just romanticism. "A good farming system is the answer to a lot of things." Liv says at the end of the conversation. This is one of the angles that we want to explore in the film as we spend the coming months storyboarding and planning, liaising with potential composers and firming up the dates for our summer shoot. “I’ve never felt so stretched and pushed, and learning every day, it’s beyond anything I’ve ever expected, so much more than corporate sustainability.” - Liv James
Since my last visit two of the young calves died as they contracted pneumonia. The calves were now on the other side of the shed and had a new daily routine for bedding. Both Rose and Freddy spoke about how machinery has helped them keep going especially as they are getting older. The bedding up is still strenuous but manageable as they are both so fit and strong. The older cattle were now in a different field this time and were awaiting their TB results, hopefully with the all clear; some would be off to market soon. Freddy enjoyed taking me to spend some time with them in the field, they were as friendly and inquisitive as last time! As Freddy arrives, the cattle immediately come over and announce their arrival.
Rose also spent some time talking with me about growing up on a farm, and she enjoyed sharing old photos from their photo albums.
I also spent a happy afternoon zooming around on the back of a quad bike (capturing some very shaky footage!) and having my first ride in a tractor. However, no one visits West Ilkerton during lambing without getting involved, and farmer Chris made his debut as a filmmaker capturing this clip of me delivering a very large ram lamb (which of course has been christened Florence!). Sarah talked me through the process and it was such a privilege to be one of the team for this lovely sunny birth.
video clip of Florence delivering her namesake!
James: Since winning the commission, my professional life has changed exponentially. A personal milestone was achieved late in March, when I won a Craft Award for motion graphics from the Royal Television Society – Devon & Cornwall. I’ve had a blast flexing my creative muscles on the national stage and am truly excited to focus my attention on the Down on the Farm commission.
In terms of ‘Get Big, Get Different or Get Out’ I’ve been extremely busy, completing the pre-production phase of the film in late February, and have secured the equipment, crew and permissions needed for shooting. I am in the midst of putting together a comprehensive production document, which I am hoping will support the film and its findings across the research portion of pre-production, as well as informing potential audiences of the complete process across the films production.
During this time, I have also been building a relationship with my contributor, Wayne Copp. We’ve arranged a 3-day shooting phase in late May and are both itching to get started. I have recruited Curtis Pyke (former work experience student at North Devon Moving Image) as a camera assistant. Curtis is a first-year student at UWE (University of West England) and is an amateur drone pilot and cameraman.
I feel 100% confident that we are fully prepared and are ready to enter the shooting phase of the project and I can’t wait to release some product stills, behind the scenes shots and of course – the final piece in November 2019.
Thank you to all our project funders and partners who are making this exciting project happen!
Over the next year we will be bringing you updates from our Down on the Farm film makers who will be 'out in the field' in north Devon creating a very special collection of short documentary films.
THE FILM MAKERS
Congratulations to our film makers!
Florence Browne from Cornwall
Holly Black & Joanne Barker from Bristol
James Cox from Devon
Linda Mason from Hampshire
Michael Balsdon from Devon
Joanna Ryan from Devon (edit - Jo joined the fold in July 2019)
The commissionees were selected by an independent panel of professionals, from the film/tv, heritage and environment industries, out of a field of over 40 applicants aged between 18 and 72
James - As political turmoil surrounding the Brexit result takes hold with cheaper, lower quality products set to be imported from abroad, affecting the future of British agriculture; farmer Wayne Copp is preparing to face Brexit and ready his children as they prepare to become the 5th generation to work his farm.
Linda - Rose Manning was born in 1945 and has been in farming all her life. Rose is the eldest daughter of 3 girls and she took the role of future farmer in the absence of her parents having a son. Lifelong Farmer will be told through memories of Rose, through informal conversations whilst she is working with the animals and in the kitchen.
Florence - The film will focus on the Eveleigh family's recently begun 'meat box' scheme, an enterprise which sees them take their own livestock from their farm on Exmoor to the local abattoir in Combe Martin and produce high-quality meat boxes which they can then sell. The focuses on the importance the family place on a small, local abattoir, as this is a crucial factor in the animals' welfare but is often overlooked by the general public.
Holly & Jo - All Down Farm’s produce is eaten within a 20 mile radius of the farm. By engaging with their wider community, market gardeners Olivia and Henry believe not only does this help to strengthen the resilience of the farm itself but also helps rebuild local food networks, links and relationships - links that were once at the core of rural farming communities.
Michael - The lambing season on Michael's family's farm. Focusing on Michael's Mother, Sister Mel and her 3 year old daughter, this inter-generational perspective exemplifies the importance of women in the continuation of farming life.
(edit July 2019) Jo - The film is about grazing sheep on Northam Burrows Country Park. It will focus on farmer Ronald Griffey who has grazed sheep there for over 40 years and the rewards and challenges this gives him. Northam Burrows is an unusual landscape rich in plants and wildlife. As common land, it has a long history of grazing rights. Ronald and his family have a strong connection with the burrows and grazing sheep there. Ronald’s father had grazing rights on the burrows, and Ronald’s son now helps him.
"Rose has been farming all her life and now even in her mid seventies she is still caring for the young cattle and supporting on the farm. I will tell Rose’s story through her daily routines on the farm and in the kitchen baking, as she prepares food and reminisces about her life. Lifelong Farmer will weave together archive material, intimate and personal recollections of being a woman in farming over many decades."
North Devon documentary maker Martin Kemp has won the very first 2018 ARRI Doc Challenge film competition for his three minute film, Where the Land Falls. The film sees Ed Strawbridge, a third generation dairy farmer at Down Farm in North Devon, looking at photographs of his family by James Ravilious. Ed reflects on how farming life has changed during his lifetime.
As a supporter of North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) and former film judge himself (for our Wild Shorts competition) we are thrilled that Martin is sharing his film with us for the NDMI collection.
The theme for the inaugural ARRI Doc Challenge was “Millennial”. As the winner of the competition, Martin received a cash prize of £3,000. “For me, having the chance to play with the ARRI Amira for three days was an unmissable opportunity. It’s a wonderful camera and I very quickly fell in love with it. The challenge to shoot and edit a film in just three days is certainly tough but it’s a great discipline. Plus you have the privilege of being able to make the piece you want to make without commissioning editors!” said Martin.
Thank you Martin and well done. A great film and doing the job that Ravilious did with his engaging photographs - preserving North Devon stories on film.
North Devon Moving Image is currently researching a new film making project about farming in North Devon.
We loved making our Instow Barton: This Farming Life film and see a great value in producing more films about North Devon's farming heritage.
We are now looking for characters and stories for this new series so if you would like to share your farming family's heritage with us and the wider world or if you know of someone who would make a great subject for a short film, please get in touch.
We are currently seeking funding for this project, which will include a programme of screening events, and any support of match funding will be most welcome. All being well, we hope to begin production in the Spring of 2016.
Keep up to date with all the latest news from NDMI Creative Director Amanda McCormack.
North Devon Moving Image CIC
Gareth Alvarez, Director
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